Is Atlanta Falcons Coach Mike Smith on the Hot Seat in 2014?

If Not, Should He Be?

“I’ll Red Flag Your Hot Seat!” (zimbio)

by Bangkapi Ajarn (Ron Drennan)

The NFL – and professional sports in general to be honest, is a “what have you done for me lately” world. Big money, big expectations, and all but one team in every league is always in “wait ’till next year” mode.

Despite the disappointing end to the year before, the marketing gurus for each team sells hope that the upcoming year will be better and more successful. New, better, more. As fans we mostly buy into the hype, big-time, and woe to those coaches that don’t turn those perceptions into performance.

Brian Finneran gives his take on the Falcons, and makes dead zone news

Enter former Falcons TE and current 680 radio personality Brian Finneran, he who was TG before TG was cool ( tall possession red zone and 3rd down target). Finn was a Falcon for quite a while, 2000 – 2010, missing two of those seasons with injuries before returning to cap off a respectable Falcons career of  236 receptions in 126 games over 11 years.

Still Big Chums? (

His career spanned two owners (Reeves family and Mr. Blank), four General managers (Reeves, Richardson, McKay, Dimitroff), six coaches (two of which flew thru when he was injured) and a number of QB’s that include Matt Ryan and Mike Vick.

While that doesn’t necessarily make Finneran an expert on the management of a football team, – any more than working on the assembly line at General Motors would qualify someone to decide who would be the best CEO for the company, it does earn him an audience and a respectful listen.

Click to Listen to Brian Finneran’s Entire Broadcast Voicing his Falcons Concerns Here

“Heads are going to roll” was his take on what would happen if things didn’t improve. He mentioned that the Coaching staff  was “stressed”.

This brings up a legitimate point, and the subject of much discussion in the cage and elsewhere – After the trainwreck of a season in 2014 (note that the record – 4-12 – is the same as when Petrino stopped by for a cup of coffee and some post-it notes),  should Smitty be on notice? Is this a win or go year for him? Should it be? How about Dimitroff, who is the one that gets the players?

Most successful coach in Falcons History

Remember this Dolt? (

The numbers don’t lie – Coach Mike Smith is the winningest coach in Falcons history. Most wins, highest winning percentage for a non-interim coach with a 51-21 (.708)  record (Rich Brooks has the record with am unassailable permanent  perfect record of 2-0 in 1998 when Reeves had surgery). Only two Falcons head coaches have been voted coach of the year, Smith is one.

Falcons coaches by winning percentage:

(1.000)  Rich Brooks

(.708)   Mike Smith

(.667)    Wade Phillips

(.542)  Jim Mora

(.529)   Leeman Bennett

(.450)  Dan Reeves

(.433)  Norm Van Brocklin

(.422)      Jerry Glanville

(.396)     June Jones

(.344)  Dan Henning

(.333)     Emmitt Thomas

(.333)        Pat Peppler

(.240)        Marion Campbell

(.234)     Marion Campbell

(.231)    Bobby Petrino

(.129)   Norb Hecker

(.000)     Jim Hanifan

Why Change?

While the obvious reason would be to get better, win more games, etc., change is always a trek into the unknown – things could get better, stay the same, or get worse.

Ol’ Dan Henning (usatoday)

In the Falcons sad, almost 50 year history there have been a grand total of 3 non-interim coaches with winning records – two under current ownership. Bennett, Mora, and Smith. In the two cases of winning coaches being replaced, for whatever reason, a trainwreck insued.

After our first winning coach Leeman Bennett left after the 1982 season, Dan Henning and his 4 years of .344 ball came in (22-41-1).

It took another 22 years and a new owner to get our next winning coach, Jim Mora (26-22).  When Mora’s lust for the Pacific Northwest got the better of him, Petrino came in. Again, trainwreck.

Now, we have Smitty. With all his faults, he did turn around a smoldering pile of doggie poo into a winning team in one improbable season, booked consecutive winning seasons for the first time ever in franchise history, went to the playoffs, and won coach of the year. Out of 6 seasons with the franchise, only one stinkeroo – and that was as injury plagued a season as one will hopefully ever see.

Who would replace him?

As mentioned earlier, change is a venture into the unknown that can go any one of three ways – better, same, worse. In the case of a coaching change, history tells us the odds are heavily on the side of worse.

But, if we WERE to change, who would come in?

A) College Coach – This owner tried that once, I doubt he would do that again (ahem, Prictrino, cough cough).

Good Trade by Ol’ Jerry (

B) Promote Nolan – There has been talk to Nolan as a head coach again, but his record would indicate that he is a perfect example of the Peter Principle – as a head coach in SF, his record of 18-37 (.327), finishing 4th once and 3rd twice got him fired 7 games into his 4th season. Smitty’s record, again, is over 70% wins even WITH that 4-12 stinkeroo season factored in.

C) Hire an experienced, previously fired head coach – Who that is out there, unemployed, and available would have a better W/L than Smitty, and be familiar with who we have?

D) Hire a successful assistant coach – This would be the most likely scenario, but is there anyone that could do better that who we have? Risky, and the odds AND history suggest no.

Areas for Improvement

As with any coach, there are areas that could be improved. Many have been adroitly analyzed in the cage, but a firm template for a Superbowl has yet to materialize. A good coach should be able to develop talent, inspire, gameplan and make adjustments to adapt to opponents game plans. Coach Synergy.

Leeman Rocking Sweet Hats! (spokeo)

A) Develop Talent – The infamous Smitty witness protection program where talent is brought into the organization then promptly disappears has been a source of constant frustration. Sure, it is easier to direct talent that is already primed and ready to go than it is to train up almost ready talent to where they can perform on the big stage, but that is one of the reasons coaches get the big bucks.

B) Teaching, motivating, inspiring are time honored benchmarks of a good coach that have been hard to spot in the Falcon coaching staff in the past few years, although the new staff  does give some hope. Do players get better as they spend time in this system? Are they fired up? Do they ever look beaten during a game?

C) Game Planning/adjustments – It seems that the second half belongs to the other team, that the adjustments game belongs to the Falcons opponents.  Our best gameplans seem to be in the no huddle when Ice is calling the plays – not exactly out smarting the other teams with our braintrust. Third downs – when opponents NEED to get yards, they seem to do so on a disturbingly regular basis, another function of coaching/defensive alignments.

D) Is the record better than the individual parts? Looking at the stats, would you expect a better W/L record, or worse.

Is it the Front Office?

Again, let’s look at the history of the office, General Managers for the Falcons and how Thomas Dimitroff measures up –

General managers in the history of the Falcons, and the records of the Falcons during their tenure:

.625 Thomas Dimitroff

.526 Eddie LeBaron

.469  Dan Henning

.469 Rich McKay

.469 Harold Richardson

.460 Dan Reeves

.450 Norm Van Brocklin

.358 Ken Herock

.351 Tom Braatz

.286 Pat Peppler

.223 Frank Wall

Rankin Brought us our Birds (Some Atlanta Newspaper)

Clearly, Thomas Dimitroff  has outperformed all other GM’s in the Falcons history, and is only one of two that had winning records – the other leaving back in 1981. Smitty is his guy, it is very doubtful he would try to get Smitty replaced unless there was a total collapse. Their fates are currently entwined.

Is it the Ownership?

In the History of the Falcons, there have been three official owners, Rankin Smith who started the franchise, his son, and Arthur Blank when he bought the team from the Smiths.

. 374 Rankin Smith       24 years

.432 Taylor Smith      12 years

.544 Arthur Blank      12 years and counting

Arthur Blank is clearly the best owner in our history, setting overall policy and hiring good people on average.

The Falcon Filter that is widely attributed to Dimitroff  is likely an ownership vision thing, inspired by the Vick fiasco and Blanks community service vision.  Smitty is a good family friendly symbol for the Falcons, and would almost certainly have the support of Ownership for the long haul.

June Jones Rockin’ the ‘Stache! (AP)

While ownership is in good hands at the moment, the future is always a cloud on the horizon that must be monitored. Arthur Blank will be 72 years old in September. His wife recently filed for divorce, after which he became engaged to Angie Macuga. He has 4 kids, but not sure what interest they would have or even if they would be involved with Mr. Blanks new lady.

At 72 an ownership change, possibly contentious, is an unfortunate possibility and would not be good for the franchise and would certainly muddle any potential coaching change. Mr. Blank’s continued health and happiness is likely the most important thing for the overall success of the Falcons.

Questions for The Cage

1) Is Smitty truly on the hot seat this year? Or, is Finn looking to stir interest (ratings) in his show during the offseason when so much attention is being redirected to the World Cup?

2) Will he be fired if he doesn’t make the playoffs?

3) Who would be available and a better choice at Head Coach than Smitty in 2015 if he is fired? Would TD be next?

4) In his first year here he turned a 4-12 (2007)  disorganized, dispirited leaderless team into a 11-5 playoff team (2008) during his first year. What can he do with this team in 2014, with so many more pieces in place?

5) Considering the W/L records of his teams, and their stats on offense and defense, is he getting the best he can out of the team?  Is his W/L record better or worse than the stats would suggest?



138 thoughts on “Is Atlanta Falcons Coach Mike Smith on the Hot Seat in 2014?

  1. JB Falcon

    Kinda quiet time of the day, everyone on their way home, and I know this might not be protocol but when I saw this I couldn’t help but think of a running back!

  2. Ken Strickland

    BANGKAPI AJARN-I’ll give you my reasons for being so bullish on this yrs Falcons.

    1-I simply love the way ABlank took over HIS team immediately after last yrs fiasco & established parameters for Smitty, TD, & the team. These parameters should correct the majority of the actual & perceived problems that’s plagued the team. He made certain that our depth, OL, DL, FS, scheme, pass rushing, rushing OFF & DEF issues were addressed. He also addressed Smitty’s micro managing & control issues by giving the OFF & DEF coordinators & their staff more decision making authority over what schemes, philosophy, approach & personnel they’ll use.

    2-I loved the way Koetter simply redesigned the OFF to feature more 3 WR sets, with an inline TE to block & receive, rather than trying to replace a very productive receiving TE(Gonzalez) who had become too much of a head case with his demands for special treatment. Here’s what I love about what’s been done with the OFF.
    A-Major upgrades at OC, RG & RT.
    B-Added more speed, quickness & depth at WR & RB.
    C-Made blocking scheme changes, modifications &/or adjustments to better suit our OLinemen & RBs.
    D-Made the decision to utilize the entire playbook, especially the 4 vertical passing OFF.
    E-We’ll finally be able to generate an effective rushing OFF, which should improve our 3rd down & red zone efficiency.
    F-Utilizing more 3 WR sets with HDouglas, rather than depending on a TE(Gonzalez) that wasn’t quick or fast & didn’t do much after the catch, should stretch the DEF a lot more & give us more quick strike capability. We’ll now have 3 receiving options capable of taking a quick slant or WR screen & going all the way anywhere on the field.
    G-MRyan will finally get the protection & time to take advantage of all the available weapons & options that will allow him to dictate to the DEF rather than simply reacting to it.
    H-DEFs will no longer be able to scheme specifically to defend the pass.
    I-With our upgraded OL, rushing & passing OFF, along with our 6′ 8″ TE, DEFs will find it a whole lot more difficult to hold us to mostly red zone FGs.
    J-With Koetter having more control over all aspects of the OFF, we can expect NOT TO SEE anymore ultra conservative & predictable play calling, & the stigma of having to endure another 2nd half filled with SMITTY BALL to protect leads will be a thing of the past.
    K-The return to 100% health of the NFLs best WR combo makes our OFF elite.

    3-I love the fact that we’ve abandoned Smitty’s love affair with his failed 4/3 DEF scheme & allowed Nolan’s to implement his 3/4 DEF scheme. Here’s what I love about what’s been done with the DEF,
    A-We’ve added more depth, size, height, strength, aggressiveness & athleticism along our DL. 340lb NT Soliai is the biggest DLineman we’ve had since GREEDY GRADY, & he seems to be stronger, more athletic & productive. 300lb DE Jackson is definitely the biggest & strongest DE we’ve ever had, & is very athletic for his size. 6′ 6″ 318lb rookie DE/NT Hageman might turn out to be the best DLineman we’ve had since DE Claude Humphrey. Having DTs Babineaux, Peters & maybe Jerry as backups creates quality depth. Run DEF will no longer be an issue.
    B-In just 1 draft we’ve turned LB, which has long been a position of concern when it came to depth, especially quality depth, into a major strength. We’ve previously relied primarily on a few aging or middle of the road veterans for depth, but we now have a stable of young, quick, fast, athletic & versatile LBs. The other LBs will provide STs play & serve as pass rushing, coverage, or run stopping specialist.
    C-We’re Younger, deeper, quicker, faster, more versatile, athletic & talented at CB than we’ve ever been. No more depending on past their prime CBs who’s more ego & talk than substance. We finally have a stable of CBs to depend on that’s only going to get better, not worse(see DRobinson & ASamuel).
    D-We still have Pro Bowl SS WMoore, who’s still playing at that level. We replaced FS TDeCoud, who was the biggest liability against the run & pass on last yrs DEF. We now have 2 FSs, Lowery & Southward, that are better than he was in every respect.

    4-We have a DEF that won’t likely start more than 1 rookie, & that’s Hageman. NT Soliai, DE Jackson, ILBs Worrilow & Bartu, OLBs Biermann & Massaquoi, CBs Trufant & Alford, SS Moore & FS Lowery all have NFL experience. That’s 10 of our 11 DEF starters having produced on the NFL level. With DC MNolan finally being allowed to implement the 3/4 DEF scheme he knows best, and having acquired the players needed to make it work, along with the overall speed, quickness, athleticism, size & strength of our DEF players & combination of youth & experience, why shouldn’t I be bullish about this DEF considering the level of talent we’ve accumulated & the previous success of our DC with this DEF scheme?

    Overall, we’ve addressed every OFF & DEF issue that plagued us last yr & in yrs past, & there will definitely be improvement in each of those areas, The only question that remains to answered is HOW MUCH WILL THAT IMPROVEMENT BE. The 2014 team will have everything the 13-3 2010 & 2012 teams had, plus most of the things those teams didn’t have. And last but certainly not least, Smitty & his micro managing, controlling, ultra conservative & predictable approach will no longer be the road block that’s hurt this team the last 3-4yrs

  3. falcon21

    Ken, if just 70% of what you just said comes true, we should be alright. Smith is the controlling factor. Sorry BA, it’s not my convo but I had to throw that out there. Well said Ken.

  4. Dewey

    This question really set off some serious debates. Actually wasn’t expecting that. Been a real busy work week, so I haven’t had the opportunity to respond til now.
    I didn’t vote one of the choices, because what I think wasn’t offered(though in retrospect, I guess I could have voted the voodoo doll).
    I don’t put any blame on the players. Save the last game against Carolina last year, I’ve never really seen a lack of effort on the players part. Now, some players have been totally overmatched, but I don’t believe the players failure has been for a lack of effort, or of understanding what their particular assignment was.
    I put very little blame on AB. Yes, I could stand to see him a lot less on the sidelines, but don’t believe that, in itself has been detrimental to the team. I do believe, however, that AB’s overreaction to the Vick fiasco, has directly led to some questionable draft picks. I don’t know exactly what directive AB has laid down on TD with respect to players character when building our roster, but it is clear, we are not willing to take chances on any player, with any negative blip on the character radar.
    TD deserves a fair share of the blame. There have been too many misses on draft picks and FA signings. The problem seems to be TD isn’t the best judge of on field talent. His 2 best draft picks would have to be Ryan and Jones. I’m not talking about value picks, speaking of overall numbers. Ryan was a no brainer, we needed a QB, we had the #3 pick, and he was the consensus #1 QB available(no one, no matter what the numbers say, would have taken Flacco over Ryan, especially at #3). Jones, we all know the history of that trade, was one of the top 2 WR available in that draft. We have found no hidden gems in 6 previous drafts(obviously the jury is still out on #7). His best FA signing, in my opinion, would be Michael Turner. Once again, we needed a RB, he was far and away the best available, and all we really did was offer a lot more $ than anyone else. Have been too many Daunta’s and Edwards’ in our FA dealings.
    Lastly we have Smitty. I really liked Smitty at first. Who wouldn’t after all of our consecutive years of flailing at the bottom of the NFL pool. But my biggest complaint for Smitty would be too old school, unwilling or unable to adapt. Back in the 80’s, early 90’s, if you had a 2-TD lead heading into the second half, the game was over. But that doesn’t work anymore, you still need to move the ball and score points, because everyone can throw 5WR’s on the field and turn the game into a track meet. And this is the part of the game that Smitty just doesn’t seem to understand.
    As far as player development, this seems to be “the chicken or the egg” argument. We’ve all questioned many of TD’s draft choices. We’ve all questioned Smitty’s lack of vision in getting younger players significant game snaps(not just on special teams). But is Smitty really not playing players, or does he not have players to play? Does TD really not know how to scout players, or are they just not given the chance to perform? Honestly believe its a little bit of both. Bartu and Warrilow were pleasant surprises last year, but if it hadn’t been for the injuries, would we have seen much of either of them? Holmes and Reynolds were finally given their shots last season, did they perform miserably because they were overmatched or underprepared?
    So, I’d have to say that AB shares about 5-10% of the blame! the rest is evenly split between Smitty and Dimwitty. If I were AB, I would have gotten rid of both after last season. Yes, they have had a really good run, but last season showed me more of the failures of these 2 working in concert together than the previous 5 years of good showed me.
    Think about this, if we hadn’t had all the injuries last year, what would our record have been? With no significant injuries, we probably would have squeeked into the playoffs. Then we would have gone into the off-season with the same “one player away” mentality that we have in previous off seasons. Probably would have overpayed for a splashy FA signing, and drafting in the 20’s somewhere, more than likely would have made the ungodly trade up to land Clowney. I say last season was a blessing. It uncovered ALL of the weaknesses of our beloved team, not just the most glaring. The problem is, with the perfect chance to start over, we rolled the dice on the same brain trust that put us in this position to begin with.
    A bit wordy, but haven’t had the chance to vent in a while.
    Thanks for listening.

  5. JB Falcon

    21, I’m 100% behind Ken’s prediction and would love nothing more than it to come true, but, like you and many others, I’ll wait and see if MS can change his spots. We’ve seen his ineptitude for so long and it has been soooo predictable that, someone mentioned, even a four year old can tell you what the next play is going to be. If I was a coach, playing the Falcons, that would be the easiest game plan of the season.

  6. JB Falcon

    Dewey, excellent post but I question the part about AB firing them both last year. You didn’t offer any replacement ideas and AB could not find any, evidently. So, he offered them a win or leave one year extension.
    And then there was this; “we rolled the dice on the same brain trust that put us in this position to begin with.”
    I think there was a lot more opinions on the table this year when we went through the FA and draft. It looks like Nolan got his picks in FA with the help of Pioli. They have brought in Tice and Cox, who I think was probably in the room. We had an excellent FA and draft and, imo, have taken the same 13-3 players and make them better.

  7. Dewey

    Know you’ve signed off for the night, maybe you’ll see this tomorrow. Hadn’t put much thought into who would have replaced TD and MS, mainly because the subject hadn’t presented itself in reality. Obviously, Pioli could have been the replacement for TD. As for MS, I’m sorry to say I’m not fully informed on all assistant coaches in NFL to make that decision. Having said that, I truly believe we have underachieved most of the last few years. Yes, our records have been good/great, but building big leads then barely hanging on to win at the end is not my idea for a recipe for success. Point being, when we hired MS, it filled me with a sense of “Huh?” So I’m quite certain there is another assistant coach out there that could do about as well. Furthermore, if you are the owner, and you believe as I do, that your current GM and HC have been as much of a hinderance as they have been a help to your success, there is an inherent danger in keeping them on board. Suppose AB wanted to replace them, but felt there was no replacement prospects that he felt could do a better job. Now say this year we make the playoffs, or win our division, win a playoff game, make it to the NFC championship game, win the game, go to the SB, win the SB. Where is the cutoff? What level of achievement makes it almost impossible to replace them. If AB wanted to replace them but didn’t because there were no better options, then that is just plain foolish. I believe AB still believes in both men, and that’s why they are still around, albeit on a one year deal. Just saying, I don’t have 100% faith in them anymore, and if I’m the owner(which I am clearly not), and I’ve lost faith in my staff, then I replace them.
    Also, the points you make about Nolan having his say in players, and the other coaches and FO personnel brought in are completely valid but also validate my point about if we hadn’t had all the injuries last year. Without the injuries last season, I firmly believe we make the playoffs, and then the offseason is status quo. A really good FO, GM, HC and even owner should have seen all of these weaknesses before the rash of injuries exposed them. So they either didn’t see them, which means they are a lot worse at talent evaluations then we thought, or they knew of all the problems, and ignored them, which isn’t any better.
    Once again, to be clear, I’m just saying, if I’m the owner, with everything I witnessed last season, I realize that a change has to be made. And in my opinion, in this situation, the GM and HC share the blame. If one goes, they both need to go.

  8. Ken Strickland

    FALCON21 & JB FALCON-Smitty changed when he agreed to accept ABlanks mandates in order to save his job. He’ll definitely have to live up to that agreement for the duration of the season if he wants his job to continue beyond this season. I don’t know if ABlank will be all that satisfied or eager to retain Smitty, even if we have a winning season & make the playoffs provided he doesn’t adhere to their agreement. After all, he’s had 3 very successful winning seasons before, with each winning season to be followed by a disappointing season.

  9. bangkapi ajarn

    Ken – Great stuff! When I asked, I was actually thinking of an article for D3 to use, but this post was exceptionally well thought out – AJC could seriously upgrade if they had you over there.

    F21 = it is everyones convo, please jump in 🙂

    Dewey – Good stuff. Actually, my choice was not in the poll as well, I was trying to keep it objective with my opinion out of it. I would have voted one year aberration (water into blood, frogs falling from the sky, lice, flies, disease, boils, locust, etc.) , good times ahead. The Saints did it last year, we do it this year.

    is it


  10. Ken Strickland

    CAGERS-here’s yet another reason for my bullishness for this yrs Falcons. Trufant played at a Pro Bowl level, but playing on such a low ranked DEF that couldn’t generate an effective pass rush really hurt him. While he appeared to be more NFL ready than Alford, Alford might end up becoming as good if not better. When ABlank made the decision to allow our coordinators to have control over their units of responsibility, MNolan immediately switched away from Smitty’s preferred 4/3 to his preferred 3/4 DEF scheme.

    But what’s so amazing about all of this is how quickly MNolan & TD have been able to acquire such a high level of DEF talent in such a short period of time that perfectly fits his 3/4 DEF scheme.

  11. Big Ray

    TD and Smitty are both in hot water. They’re being given a chance (the last chance) to find a way out, as this stadium is being built.

    If failure occurs, Blank may not clean house – there is just too much to overcome with such a thing, especially with a franchise level QB coming into his prime. However, if I were to bet money on it, I’d say that Smitty is the one to go. TD circled the wagons in HIS office, bringing in “friends.” Smitty did his own version of that by bringing in two new line coaches. Of course, the illusion is that they did everything together, in conjunction with what the other was doing. That’s the way it is meant to look, but you can bet that when the chips are down, the separation (and therefore the infamous and decidedly sickening disconnect concept) will come to pass once and for all.

    But why dwell on such dark things? I choose not to. Each thing, in it’s own time.

  12. Big Ray


    Trufant will become that guy that nobody throws at. Alford will become that guy who makes all those plays because opposing teams are going to have to pick their poison…and they’ll pick Alford. He’ll take more chances, as Samuel once did.

  13. Big Ray

    Not the best, but even these media types recognize that improvement is not all about garnering big names (for big money). Watch Hawley become Mud Duck Part II. Konz – maybe he develops into a decent backup. Geez what a waste of a pick (of Peria Jerry proportions).

    Asamoah and Blalock will be rock solid, but I do wonder who takes over in time to allow Blalock’s bloating salary to be cut in a year or two?

    Holmes – preparing for RT whenever Matthews takes over at LT. Meanwhile, I’d like to see the continued intense development of Schraeder and Gunn, among others.

  14. bangkapi ajarn

    Things have slowed a bit during a world cup weekend, so let me toss a question out there –

    Ken S gave an outstanding “bullish” list reasons the 2014 Falcons will have a successful season.

    As there is always an alternate opinion out there (as a penny has a heads AND a tails) would anyone care to offer the “Bearish” list of reasons they believe the 2014 Falcons will NOT make the playoffs (coaching, too many key players coming off major injuries, too many new players, competition improved more than the Falcons, etc., etc.)?

  15. JB Falcon

    Good to see ya’ Big Ray!
    BA, You’ll probably have to poll the NO blog to get a taker to write the requested pessimism. I could make up a bunch of stuff for arguments sake but I wouldn’t take myself seriously.

  16. Arno


    There’s a full list of positives to be noted this off-season. For me, there is still one big entry on the debit side. Remember when the Falcons were 1-3 last year and Nolan stormed out of the locker room? This tells me that while Nolan’s D is closer than ever to his vision for it, this will still be Mike Smith’s team. Yes, our coordinators are continuing to develop their systems. But I’m thoroughly in the Missouri camp as regards our co-ordinators having more say in the performance of this team on Sundays. For me, the restrictor plate is still in place until proven otherwise.

  17. bangkapi ajarn


    I am positive myself, I think we are headed back to the playoffs. Matty takes the next step with time to throw and (hopefully) a credible running attack.

    However, I actually WAS Born in Missouri (Kansas City) and share a well established scar ridden twinge of doubt, a twinge that has proven all too justified since 1966. It is a subjective twinge, Pavlovian in nature as much as anything. It is hard for me to quantify, however.

    I can think of things that could go wrong (Murphys law applies) – Coaching, as the title of the article implies, can get us if we lean on a shaky defense while shutting down a potent passing attack. I believe in burning clock in instances, but we suck at that.

    I was hoping someone could give an analysis for reasons for pessimism along the lines of Ken’s list for optimism.

  18. bangkapi ajarn

    I am afraid too much exposure to the Saints blog would infect me with explosive diarrhea.

    Seems a few of the ‘aints fans that deigned to visit Falcons sites suffer from diarrhea of the keyboard, mouth, etc. and it COULD be contagious. :-).

  19. Arno

    BA, My poor attempt at analysis! My specific point was a response to Ken’s believe that Blank had mandated Smith concede more control to his coordinators. My data to the contrary was the instance of Nolan storming out of the locker room, indicating to me, at least, that when it comes to game day, there is a disconnect between Smith and his coordinators. Will things be different this year? That’s what I meant by ‘show me.’

  20. Ken Strickland

    BANGKAPI AJARN-That’s right, keep fanning the flames to keep the fire going. That way the time of yr that’s referred to as the DEAD SEASON will definitely show some life & have far more interest. I fully expect all of last yrs rookie starters, LBs Bartu & Worrilow & CBs Trufant & Alfordf, to be much improved. I also expect OLinemen LHolmes, GCamini, MJohnson, SBaker, JHawley, PKonz, & RShraeder, & maybe even HGunn, to be improved over last yr.

    I’m sure they were being coached up during the off season & OTAs to function in what should be a new & improved blocking scheme that’s more suitable to their individual talents & abilities. Hopefully, with more emphasis on utilizing skills & technique, rather than relying so much on brute strength, injuries will be reduced.

    BIG RAY-I’ve been calling for you man, along with FLO-RI-DUH. It’s good to have you back on board. With you now in the mix, that so called DEAD SEASON won’t be so DEAD. What you said about CBs Trufant & Alford is why I feel Alford with become as good or better. If they get the benefit of a solid pass rush, which I believe will happen, both of them could become 2 ball hawking demons. And once Southward gets acclimated to FS, his speed, range & athleticism will allow them to take more chances in coverage.

    While there’s a lot of youth on this yrs DEF, especially at LB, there’s just too much overall talent for them not to become a solid DEF down the stretch, if not sooner. I also can’t help but feel that our OL will drastically improve due to going up against NT Soliai, DEs Jackson, Goodman, Peters & Babineaux, OLBs Massaquoi, Biermann, Maponga, Osi, Starr, & ILBs Bartu, Worrilow, Shembo, Smallwood & Spruill in practice. We now have a 3/4 DL that’s capable of making a difference against the interior of the Saints OL.

    While the Saints have Pro Bowl to All Pro caliber OGs, they definitely don’t have anything close to that level of quality at OT or OC. They’ll have to give their OC, & maybe their OTs, a lot of help against Soliai, Jackson & Hageman. They’ll also have to contend with inside(Warrilow/Shembo) & outside(Massaquoi/Starr or Spruill) rushers.

    With what I am totally certain will be a solid run DEF, there will be far fewer 2nd or 3rd & short situations for our DEF to contend with, which should create far more 2nd or 3rd & long situations for OFFs to contend with. With the improvement of our OL comes a corresponding improvement in our run & pass blocking. That combination should drastically reduce the number of 2nd or 3rd & long situation we encountered last yr, which should also increase our 3rd down & red Zone efficiency.

  21. dawsondevitt Post author

    Arno — Couldn’t agree more. You can have all the talent, best assistant coaches, and coordinators in the world, but good luck trying to win the whole damn thing without a true leader at the highest position. The WPP was eliminated not by choice from Smith, but by necessity (he literally had no one else to play). Antone Smith is best example from last year. He was fully healthy and good enough to be a gunner on special teams, but couldn’t tote the rock? Please. Missouri camp (Show Me State) all the way. And training camp is not good enough because “every team are Super Bowl contenders in TC.” I reserve judgement until preseason game #1. Sorry, as the song goes………….

  22. JB Falcon

    Arno, D3, I agree with, and share, your doubts about MS actually changing his spots but also have to lend the same amount of optimism that he will because he is not going to have a choice. Let him over step MN or DK and call a bad play like he has been known to do in the past. That would be like tying his own noose.
    He has been given an ultimatum and a one year extension to show that he will use the team to the best advantage by letting his hired help do what they’re getting paid to do. I like what BR said about him and TD were both given the same ultimatum and they have both been given free rein to hire all the help they needed.
    Hiring help who are good at what they do is one thing, letting them do what they know best is another. You can say “show me that he can change” and I say “show me that you are stupid enough to cut your own nose off to spite your face.” If he lets his stupidity and stubbornness ruin his entire career, so it be. Good luck finding another job in the NFL.


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